Sometimes, the deepest and most moving pieces of art come in the simplest of packages, be it a low key visual style, or even a simplistic title.Â The latest film from the pair of siblings known as The Dardenne Brothers, ‘˜The Kid With A Bike,’ fits that bill, and both parts of it.
A darling of the festival circuit last year, the film is now making its way stateside with a run at this year’s Portland International Film Festival, and the team of Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne have hit once again with a stunning piece of deeply emotional familial drama, something the two of them have become the best at discussing.
‘˜Bike’ finds the viewer thrust into the world of Cyril a young boy who is abandoned by his father, only to be left at a neo-orphanage run by the state.Â However, when he meets a beautiful young hairdresser, the pair spark a relationship, leading the latter to take the young boy in, fostering him on weekends. Starring well known French actress Cecile De France and the revelation of a newcomer that is Thomas Doret, the film is as viscerally effecting as it is distinctly abrasive and in many ways honestly violent. It’s also simply one hell of a film.
Doret is easily the film’s biggest star.Â Playing the role of the youngster Cyril, the character himself has come from one hell of a tough world.Â Abandoned randomly by his father, Cyril must come to terms with not only being left all alone by the patriarchal figure in this life, but also that throughout his life he’s had a great sense of abandonment.Â This breeds a shockingly high level of angst and anger within the young man, and throughout the film, we become privy to the almost percussive outbursts, which we see as beyond justified due to his spotty past.
De France is equally as great, playing the woman who comes to shelter the troubled youth.Â She has such a large heart, and the sense of truth within De France’s own performance and also her relationship with the boy is more than believable. You feel the weight of Cyril’s situation, but also the moments of angst had by him become even more pointed when they involve De France, as both parties have the purest of intentions, but no idea how to handle the cards that life has dealt them.Â It’s a brutal concept, but it’s intent here is so heartfelt that it becomes far more moving than a narrative like this has any right to be.
Visually, the film is rather muted.Â Never the flashiest of filmmakers, the Dardennes opt for muted frames, shot by a rather inactive camera which catches each moment through a intensely intimate lens.Â Gorgeous cinematography amps up the film’s drama, but it is the willingness in the heart of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne to allow each frame to breath that truly leaves the viewer rolling around, turning with each second more and more into a ball of clay in the hands of the auteurs, molding into emotionally devastated blobs of tears, introspection and sorrow.
Coming off of a debut at the Cannes Film Festival last year, the newest film from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, ‘˜The Kid With A Bike,’ may not be the iconic French duo’s greatest piece of cinema, but it’s not only one of their more personal films, but it’s also one of their most universal and accessible. Simply telling the story of a boy deserted by everyone in his life only to be left looking for some sort of acceptance, the film pairs this longing for some sort of familial love with a deeply brooding sense of anger and angst, making this one of the more moving pieces of the past, say, 12 months.Â Unlike most films, this is one that can be genuinely recommended to anyone, age be damned.Â A film this good must be seen, and by everyone.
The film will play on Friday the 17th at 6:15 pm PST at the Whitsell Auditorium, and again on Sunday the 19th at 7:45 pm PST at the Lloyd Mall 6.